Preparing for our first global trip with nursing students required quite a bit of planning. Initially, a faculty member and I traveled to Cameroon in August 2009 to meet with the faculty at the University of Buea to set expectations for the program, and to identify sites and activities for the students’ cultural immersion.
Students interested in going to Cameroon registered for the HIV: Caring and Concepts elective course and had to go through a complex selection process. The eight students ultimately selected for the trip regularly met outside of class to identify how the learning modules would be delivered. They had the opportunity to develop the 15 modules based on the textbook that we used as the basis for the workshop. Each student took responsibility for one or two modules, and provided additional information from current journals as well as artwork and pictures to bring their presentations to life.
Many included case studies and questions to spark group discussion. The students also practiced individual methods of teaching that felt most natural to them. Once all 15 modules were completed, the students organized practice sessions of “train the trainer” where they taught each other the modules that they developed.
In addition to learning the content, the students also met with Barbara Bogomolov, RN, manager of the Refugee Health and Interpreter Services at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, to better understand specific communication approaches to use in Cameroon.
The students also helped collect and assemble small tokens of friendship that they gave to each of the 52 Cameroonian nursing students at the end of the workshop. The tokens included book bags and completion certificates individualized with each student’s name.
Regardless of whether or not the students in my class traveled outside the United States, all of them had the opportunity to learn about how HIV/AIDS impacts countries, communities and individuals differently. Many students experienced a personal “ah-ha” moment and began to think about how to work with people who experience a different reality than their own.